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9 Surprising Facts About Your Heart and Its Health

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February is Heart Health Month – a time for us to remember the importance of heart health and to recognize that cardiovascular disease is the number one cause of death in the world.

Heart disease kills more than 17 million people every year and in 2016, it claimed the lives of several much-loved celebrities including actress Debbie Reynolds, singer George Michael and actor Alan Thicke. In honor of our hearts, here are nine facts about the hardest working muscle in your body.

1. The heart pumps out two ounces of blood at every heartbeat and may beat more than three billion times in a person's life.

2. Coronary heart disease costs the United States $108.9 billion each year in health care services, medications and lost productivity.

3. A woman's average heartbeat is faster than a man's by almost eight beats a minute.

4. The most important key to heart health is also the cheapest: regular exercise.

5. The aorta, the largest artery in the body is almost the diameter of a garden hose.

6. Holiday stress is bad for the heart! According to the Cleveland Clinic, the number of heart attacks peaks on Christmas day, followed by December 26th and New Year's.

7. Laughter can do wonders for your heart health. A good laugh can send 20% more blood flowing through your entire body. Laughter also causes the lining of your blood vessel walls to relax and expand.

8. Every day, your heart creates enough energy to drive a truck for 20 miles.

9. Your left lung is smaller than the right lung to make room for the heart.

Heart disease is the cause of one of four deaths every year in the United States, but small lifestyle changes can make a big difference when it comes to lowering your risk for heart disease. Remember to:

• Monitor your weight and eat a heart-healthy diet.

• Drink in moderation – or not at all.

• Quit smoking if you smoke. Don’t start if you don’t.

• Get your blood pressure checked at least every two years.

If you treat your heart right, you can keep celebrating American Heart Month (and Valentine's Day!) for many Februaries to come.

To get a read on your current heart health, schedule a stress test at Central Maine Heart and Vascular Surgery Institute. The Central Maine Heart and Vascular Health Institute in Lewiston offers expert cardiac and vascular diagnostic and treatment services close to home. We make it our mission to provide comprehensive care, from prevention and screening to treatment and rehabilitation, that is high-quality, efficient, evidence-based, and patient and family-focused. Learn how you can look out for your heart health at https://www.cmmc.org/heartandvascular.